January is a great time to take some hardwood cuttings of any deciduous shrubs or trees you may have in your garden. You can take hardwood cuttings anytime over the winter once the shrubs have lost their leaves and before the new buds break in the spring. Today I have taken some cuttings of Cornus alba 'Sibirica' and Cornus stolonifera 'Flaviramea' which are found growing in the Shrubbery and here is how it was done:
1/ Collect the material from the chosen shrub. From Cornus, you are looking to take strong, straight stems that have grown this year. Avoid any old, weak or damaged growth. Use sharp secateurs and cut long stems that you can shorten to size later.
2/ Prepare your growing medium a.k.a compost. Mix some multipurpose compost with a little perlite or grit for drainage. Use clean pots when you take cuttings to help prevent any fungal diseases. Today I used 'long toms' which are a tall, narrow pot.
3/ Prepare your cuttings. I cut the Cornus to a length of about 25cm. I made a straight cut just below a bud at the bottom of the cutting. I then made a slanted cut above a bud (about 25cm above the first cut). Having a straight cut at the bottom and a slanted cut at the top helps you to orientate your cutting so it doesn't get planted upside down!
Above: Slanted cut at the top of the cutting and straight cut at the bottom.
4/ At this point you can insert the base of your cutting into a hormone rooting powder. Fill your pot with compost and gently firm it down, then use a dibber or a stick to gently make a hole, and carefully insert your cutting. You want to leave enough space between cuttings to allow good air circulation, I tend to insert about five cuttings per pot.
Above: Five cuttings per pot.
5/ Label the cuttings with the name of the plant and the date. Water them in using a watering can with a rose. This will gently settle the compost without disturbing the cuttings. They can then be placed outside or in a coldframe.
Above: Always label your cuttings so you know what they are!
Here are a few more photos to show what else has been happening in the garden over the last week and a bit!:
Above: Snowy Hestercombe! The Pear Pond in the Landscape Garden last Wednesday!
Above: One of our students, Hannah, thinning out the woodland area above the car park.
Above: Hazel coppicing. We cut and collect stems of hazel to use as our plant supports in the Formal Garden in the spring.